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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2020

Olga Khokhotva and Iciar Elexpuru Albizuri

The study aims at exploring the perspective of three English as a Foreign Language teachers after their year-long involvement in the Lesson Study project in the context of…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims at exploring the perspective of three English as a Foreign Language teachers after their year-long involvement in the Lesson Study project in the context of Kazakhstan in order to capture and list any perceived changes in teachers’ educational beliefs over the period of the Lesson Study intervention. The main argument of the study suggests that the school-based Lesson Study initiative is conducive to triggering changes in teachers’ educational beliefs, and thus, might lead to positive changes in school culture in Kazakhstani schools. Shaped following Hill et al., (1982) in Swales, 1990 hour-glass model of a research project (Swales, 1990), the article reflects the third concluding part of the Ph.D. thesis focusing on the implementation of the Lesson Study methodology in Kazakhstan.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the qualitative research design and follows the narrative inquiry methodology. The three narrative interviews (Bauer, 1996) are utilized as the main method of data collection. The data were analyzed as text following a general inductive approach (Thomas, 2003), where emerging themes were identified employing data reduction and further sub-categorized through the conceptual and theoretical lenses of the study. The emerged categories reflecting the perceived shifts in teachers’ educational beliefs were dialectically linked to implications for school culture in Kazakhstani schools.

Findings

As data suggest, the respondents’ active engagement in the Lesson Study professional learning community and exercising leadership through implementing changes in their classroom practice has made a positive impact on teachers’ rethinking their teaching practice, attitudes to students and their learning, collegiality, and professional self-identification. We conclude that, if organized properly, Lesson Study has enormous potential to facilitate changes of teachers’ educational beliefs: from direct transmission beliefs toward constructivist beliefs, from restricted professionals’ beliefs toward reflective practitioner beliefs and attitudes, toward beliefs in the power of student’s voice, and collaboration. Those shifts are linked to establishing a more positive, child-friendly and rights-based school culture with teachers’ shared visions and capacity for innovation.

Research limitations/implications

We acknowledge that the abundance of the reported positive changes or perceived shifts in teachers’ thinking might not be the indicators of actual changes in their beliefs. We emphasize that the study was carried in a controlled context, i.e. the three ELF teachers were constantly supported, and the teacher talk was systematically guided by a trained facilitator. Warned by Giroux et al. (1999), we are aware of the major challenge of the fundamental assumption of critical pedagogy that teachers are willing and able to undertake “the practice of analyzing their practice” (p. 27) voluntarily. Thus, the question remains open: if the facilitator’s support is eliminated, will the results point to the occurrence of the disruption and disorientation as a necessary condition for the beliefs change?

Originality/value

Carried out in the largely overlooked by the academic literature context of the Reform at Scale (Wilson et al., 2013) in Kazakhstan and building on the original combination of conceptual and theoretical lenses, the research contributes to the academic literature by connecting teachers’ educational beliefs, Lesson Study and school culture. The findings might be of value for the school leaders, educators, teacher trainers, and policymakers to advocate Lesson Study as a systematic approach to the whole-school improvement, as a tool to facilitate positive changes in school culture, as well as give impetus to studies employing the school culture perspective in developing Lesson Study impact evaluation tools.

Details

International Journal for Lesson & Learning Studies, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 2 January 2020

Olga Khokhotva and Iciar Elexpuru Albizuri

The purpose of this paper is to report the findings from a case study of an action research project in the context of a secondary school in Kazakhstan where, for the first…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report the findings from a case study of an action research project in the context of a secondary school in Kazakhstan where, for the first time in their teaching practice, three English as a Foreign Language teachers introduced student voice (Flutter and Rudduck, 2004) into their practice within the Lesson Study (LS) framework. The research aimed at conceptualizing Student Voice Space in LS as one of the valuable factors capable of triggering situations of disjuncture (disorienting dilemma, disruption) for teachers which could potentially lead to teacher’s transformative learning, educational beliefs change and improved practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the qualitative research design and follows narrative inquiry methodology (Lyons and LaBoskey, 2002) with a series of narrative interviews (Bauer, 1996) as the main method of data collection within a single case study (Bassey, 1999) of an action research project. The data were analyzed as text following a general inductive approach (Thomas, 2003) where emerging themes were identified by means of data reduction.

Findings

The findings suggest that listening to student voice triggers teachers’ going through certain stages of Mezirow’s transformative learning theory including critical assessment of own assumptions, testing new options for behavior and reflecting critically on the teaching practice. Therefore, the authors suggest that Student Voice Space in LS is one of the important factors capable of triggering the teacher’s transformative learning. Moreover, it has an enormous potential not only to bring about positive changes in teachers’ practice but also challenge the ossified teachers’ educational beliefs, and thus, potentially, pave the way for a gradual change from “inappropriate beliefs” (Mayrhofer, 2019), or subconscious assumptions that lie in the core of teachers’ folk pedagogies (Torff, 1999), or taken-for-granted frames of reference (Mezirow, 2000) into true, justified or informed educational beliefs.

Research limitations/implications

Further analysis of teachers’ narratives is required to elicit and categorize reported changes (shifts, transformations) concerning specific teachers’ educational beliefs, and draw a more clear line between student voice and its impact on the research lesson planning and its modification in LS. Finally, a supplementary study utilizing classroom observation methods is needed to explore if student voice intervention results in tangible (actual) changes in teachers’ classroom practice and educational beliefs, rather than potential transformations that are mainly reported in this study.

Originality/value

Carried out in the largely overlooked by the academic literature context of the Reform at Scale (Wilson et al., 2013) in Kazakhstan and building on the original combination of theoretical lenses, the research contributes to the academic literature aiming at illuminating “the black box of teachers’ learning” in Lesson Study (in Widjaja et al., 2017, p.358) since it is one of the rare studies attempting to connect teacher learning, student voice and Lesson Study (Warwick et al., 2019). Additionally, approaching teacher learning in Lesson Study from the transformative learning perspective combined with the literature on teachers’ educational beliefs and student voice, this study contributes to the further development of a shared vocabulary for discussing teacher learning in Lesson Study.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 15 March 2021

Olga Khokhotva and Iciar Elexpuru-Albizuri

The paper describes two reflective instruments: a reflective diary (RD) and a joint learning protocol (JLP) for teachers' knowledge creation in lesson study (LS), reflects…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper describes two reflective instruments: a reflective diary (RD) and a joint learning protocol (JLP) for teachers' knowledge creation in lesson study (LS), reflects on teachers' reactions and encountered challenges and draws inferences on how teachers' learning and knowledge creation could be facilitated more effectively in LS through “learning keeping.”

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative case study of an action research project utilizes the data collected through the narrative inquiry within an LS initiative with four English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers in a school in Spain.

Findings

The study suggests that the incorporation of reflective writing in LS as a method of keeping records of teachers' individual and collective reflections should be considered “a good practice” and yet another important mechanism facilitating teachers' learning in LS.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited by its scope since the applied LS model suggests carrying out three consecutive cycles rather than two.

Originality/value

Firstly, the two proposed instruments could be of practical value to educators and facilitators employing LS as an approach to teachers' professional learning. Secondly, the study adds to the discussion on the mechanisms fostering teachers' learning in LS by emphasizing “learning keeping” as a form of record-keeping through reflective writing. Thirdly, the study is set in the new for the LS community context, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, Spain.

Details

International Journal for Lesson & Learning Studies, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 15 November 2018

Olga Khokhotva

Shaped as an exploratory pilot case study, the purpose of this paper is threefold: to describe a case of how Lesson Study (LS) is implemented at a school in Kazakhstan; to…

Abstract

Purpose

Shaped as an exploratory pilot case study, the purpose of this paper is threefold: to describe a case of how Lesson Study (LS) is implemented at a school in Kazakhstan; to identify if and in which ways teachers benefit from participating in LS and what barriers they encounter; and to discuss the possible implications for practice. Mainly, this research endeavors to produce knowledge that might serve as a base for further large-scale studies and interventions as well as inform policy makers and LS program developers and executors of the teachers’ perspective on the quality of assistance they require and, thus, stimulate reflection on the possible ways to overcome existing barriers.

Design/methodology/approach

This research adopts qualitative paradigm and utilizes a pilot exploratory case study framework (Gillham, 2000). The data were analyzed by means of what Thomas (2003) refers to as “general inductive approach” which “is intended to aid an understanding of meaning in complex data through the development of summary themes or categories from the raw data, i.e. data reduction” (p. 2). The data were analyzed as text and reduced by means of inductive coding. The text was read rigorously and systematically in order to identify emerging themes based on the recurrence of patterns (Thomas, 2003, p. 3).

Findings

LS is a growing phenomenon in Kazakhstan which, if systemically supported and organized properly based on the shared understanding, has a great potential to make a positive impact on teachers’ learning, knowledge sharing and collegiality as well as to become a powerful tool to help teachers overcome collaboratively the pressure of the nationwide reforms. It has profound potential to change teachers’ values and beliefs about the effective pedagogies applicable to students’ learning and developing skills, required in the twenty-first century.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited by the chosen methodology since there is a wide criticism in the literature related to inability of single case studies to provide generalizable data (Yin, 1994 in Woodside, 2010, p. 249). Another limitation, as the literature puts it forward, is that case studies are biased by researcher’s perspective and tend to report what the researcher “wants to find” (Gillham, 2000, p.28 ); thus, in its core, case study is subjective. However, Gillham (2000) proposes how these problems could be addressed by means of what he calls following the principals of “researcher of integrity” who is “constantly challenging and scrutinizing” himself and “detached honesty,” which implies acknowledging your own place in the scheme of things and striving to “decentre from yourself” (p. 28). Thus, the researcher tried her best to comply with the mentioned above principals.

Practical implications

The findings within this research could be used by researchers as a starting point for in-depth studies, the case studies of Lesson Studies practices in specific schools or regions of Kazakhstan as well as by the policy makers and school leaders as a thought-provoking source on how to effectively structure teachers’ professional development in schools.

Originality/value

This paper is the first academic source to shed light on LS as a means to in-school teachers’ professional development in the context of Kazakhstan.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 7 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

Keywords

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